In The News

USGS study finds that chemicals in runoff from coal-tar-sealed pavement are deadly to some aquatic life

When people talk about streets that are tough, or deadly, they don’t usually mean the asphalt has it out for somebody. But for those living in the eastern U.S., the pavement beneath their feet may harbor chemicals capable of doing real harm to a variety of organisms. Two new studies from the U.S. Geological Survey show that rainwater runoff from pavement sealed with coal tar is highly toxic to aquatic life. Published in the journals Environmental Science and Technology and Science of the Total Environment, the studies reveal that coal-tar-based sealant contains high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and that those chemicals not only damage DNA, but also impair the process of DNA repair.

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New Satellite will detect algal blooms quicker than water sampling

A new partnership between federal agencies plans to use color-sensing technology via satellite to detect harmful algal blooms. According to a release from NASA , the scientists will take advantage of ocean color data from a handful of satellites, including the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3. None of the satellites are equipped to send a useful format of data to local environmental and water quality managers. A new format developed by the project will be quicker than water sampling for warning public health administrations about impending blooms so they can take action. The partners are hopeful that this technology will make forecasting algal blooms easier and will uncover precisely why these events have occurred more often in recent history.

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Biocides, other organic compounds identified in fracking fluid study

New studies show biocides and other organic chemicals are among the poorly understood constituents of fracking fluid, according to a press release from Elsevier , publisher of the journals the studies appear in. The studies’ revelation that there are potentially hazardous organic chemicals in fracking fluid may ultimately lead to better regulation. Fracking fluid has been analyzed in the past for inorganic substances such as salt and potentially radioactive materials. The recent research tackled organic constituents that fracking fluid could contain, including biocides and surfactants commonly used in detergents. The organic constituents are of special interest because they can contaminate surface water and eventually groundwater.

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